Wiggins tops Big Board 8.0
The NCAA season ended on Monday night and the Connecticut Huskies are the national champions.
A lot has happened since our last Big Board update in February. NBA draft stock has risen and fallen thanks to a number of factors like injuries, conference play and performance in the NCAA tournament.
With the season over, teams now have a bit of a draft lull. The Nike Hoop Summit is this weekend and we will get a good look at one guy on our Big Board, Clint Capela.
The Portsmouth Invitational is next week, though it's rare for anyone on our Big Board to attend the senior-only tournament. So for most of these players it's off to to train in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago and New York until the NBA draft combine in Chicago in mid-May.
Until then, here's our eighth Big Board of the 2014 NBA draft.
1. Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins began the season atop our Big Board and he ends the college season in the same spot. He's had his ups and downs and struggled at times to live up to the huge expectations that have been on his shoulders. He has weaknesses that need to be improved, but in talking to numerous GMs and scouts, he's atop at least 60 percent of the big boards in the NBA at the moment and looks like he'd be the top pick for five of the six teams with the worst records in the league.
2. Jabari Parker
If Parker declares (and it's still an "if" right now), Parker has the label as the most NBA-ready freshman in this draft. Maybe the most NBA-ready of anyone in the draft. But teams want huge upside as well this high in the draft and while Parker is the most likely to come out and win Rookie of the Year honors, the fear is that his ceiling isn't as high as either Wiggins' or Joel Embiid's. A few teams are still leaning his direction with the No. 1 pick, but other than the Jazz, the rest are long shots. It will be interesting to see if his stock rises if he can get in great shape before the combine. That's one of the biggest knocks on him right now.
3. Joel Embiid
How's the back? That's the biggest question surrounding Embiid right now. The second biggest question? Will he declare? The early word was that he was leaning toward leaving KU, but his hesitation since then has raised some eyebrows. If his back checks out at the combine, he'll be back in the discussion for the No. 1 pick. If it's something small, he might drop a few spots. If teams think it needs surgery at some point, he could really slide. So for now, it's safe to say Embiid will be the biggest question mark in the draft for the next month.
4. Dante Exum
Exum is in LA, working out with Kobe Bryant's and Dwyane Wade's trainer, Tim Grover. NBA scouts would love to come in and get a peek, but no one can see him until the NBA releases the official underclassmen declaration list sometime in late April. Even then, it's unlikely that more than a couple of teams will get to see him in workouts. There's going to be a dearth of information about him going into the draft, but it doesn't mean he can't play. His agent, Rob Pelinka, is just going to be strategic about which teams get a good look.
5. Julius Randle
Randle finished with four double-doubles in the tournament and scored in double-digits in every game, but he struggled against UConn in the final game, scoring only 10 points on 3-for-7 shooting. The tournament showed off Randle's strengths and weaknesses. He can be a beast in the paint, moves his feet so well for someone his size and looks NBA ready. But he struggles to score against length and athleticism at times, and that will become only more pronounced at the next level.
6. Aaron Gordon
Gordon has yet to declare for the draft, but the word around the league is that he will do so. He is still a work in progress on the offensive end of the ball (which partially explains why his advanced metrics are so low), but all the defensive tools he has, combined with elite athleticism and motor, have many scouts on board with him as an Andrei Kirilenko-meets-Blake Griffin forward at the next level.
7. Noah Vonleh
Vonleh might be the one guy on this list who could end up leapfrogging both Gordon and Randle into that top-5 spot. Blessed with size, athletic ability and shooting touch, Vonleh's best comp may be Chris Bosh. You are going to see a lot of teams in the 4-8 range trying to schedule Randle, Gordon and Vonleh together for workouts. Each player possesses something the other doesn't. It should be epic.
8. Marcus Smart
Smart would have been the No. 2 pick in the draft last year had he come out. Another year at school has dinged his stock a bit, but a late-season surge for him has put him on very solid ground in the top 10. Some scouts love him and some scouts aren't enamored at all, but Smart's range looks like it's 4-10 right now.
9. Tyler Ennis
Ennis didn't finish the season as strong as he started, and I know there are some scouts who are starting to get off the bandwagon. But his steadiness as a point guard is pretty rare. I think you see Smart and Exum go ahead of him in virtually every scenario, but after those two are off the board, Ennis doesn't have a lot of competition and several teams in the late lottery/mid-first round need point guards.
10. Gary Harris
Harris has yet to declare his intentions for the NBA draft, however he's widely regarded as the second-best two-guard in the draft behind Wiggins. His lack of size and his inconsistent shooting from deep has hurt his stock a little bit, but Harris' ability to play at both ends of the floor, along with his young age (he's younger than both Ennis and Embiid) have scouts projecting him as a top-10 pick. Look for him to go in the 8-15 range.
11. Clint Capela
Capela has been steadily rising on our draft board all year and will finally get to show his stuff on the big stage of the Nike Hoop Summit this weekend (Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2). He's got size and athletic ability and has been putting up decent numbers in Spain. If he can have a big game for the international team on Saturday, he could even move up a few more spots on this board.
12. Doug McDermott
McDermott may have been the best scorer in college basketball this season, but his draft projections don't entirely reflect that. While everyone believes he'll be a great shooter at the NBA level, teams aren't entirely convinced he can guard a position, which makes him considerably less valuable. He should go somewhere between 10 and 15.
13. Zach LaVine
LaVine is still a controversial prospect. Some NBA GMs and scouts love him thanks to his upside (he's an explosive athlete with good size for his position who can really shoot the rock). Others point to his frail body, poor shot selection and inconsistent play in Pac-12 play to question how ready he is for the NBA. He's not. But that hasn't stopped teams in the past from drafting players almost exclusively on upside. His draft stock is all over the place, but I continue to hear that teams in the late lottery are looking at him hard.
14. Dario Saric
Saric is a wizard with the ball and if it was clear he was heading to the NBA this season, he'd be in our top 10 (which he was the entire season). However, both his father and multiple sources in Europe say that he's staying overseas for at least another year, which diminishes his value to teams drafting in the lottery.
15. P.J. Hairston
Hairston finished his D-League season on Sunday for the Texas Legends with a 33-point outburst. Hairston averaged 21.8 ppg, shot 45.3 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from behind the 3-point arc for the season. If he can clear up concerns about his off-the-court behavior, he could go 10 spots higher. Many scouts believe he's one of the two or three most NBA-ready players in this draft.
16. Montrezl Harrell
Harrell is a beast in the paint. If he was a few inches taller, he'd be much higher on this board. However his length, explosive athletic ability and motor make him a great candidate for the mid-first round.
17. James Young
Young saved his two best games of the tournament for the Final Four, scoring 17 points against Wisconsin and 20 against UConn. Not only did he show off his shooting range, but he had several terrific finishes at the basket as well. If he had shot the ball just a little bit better all season, he would be a surefire lottery pick. As it stands right now, he's in the 12-24 range.
18. Jerami Grant
Grant hasn't declared his intentions for the draft yet. He's a pretty raw player offensively, but his combination of length and athleticism intrigues scouts. So do his defensive efforts. He's an upside pick, but his upside is so high, I think he could go anywhere between 15-25.
19. Nik Stauskas
Stauskas hasn't declared for the draft yet, but all signals point in that direction. He's an excellent shooter with deep range and has such a quick release on his jumper. Many scouts think he could be a better version of J.J. Redick, which should land him somewhere between 15-25.
20. Willie Cauley-Stein
Cauley-Stein hasn't gotten the draft bump that the other UK players have received, thanks to an ankle injury that kept him out of the final three games. He's still so raw offensively, but his shot-blocking ability and lateral quickness have scouts interested in him as a rim protector. Size rises in the draft. I could see him going anywhere from 12-24 on draft night.
21. Adreian Payne
Payne is a terrific shooter, has the size and athletic ability to play in the post and had a stellar senior season. If he was a freshman, he'd probably be in the mix for a top-five pick. His age is the only thing really holding him from cracking the top 10.
22. Rodney Hood
Hood shot the ball really well all season and has great size for his position. His lack of strength and concerns that he's a bit one-dimensional hurt his stock a bit. Some scouts love him, some are more wary. He, too, goes somewhere between 13-25.
23. Cleanthony Early
Early is one of the big stars from the NCAA tournament. Blessed with size, athleticism and a jump shot, he looked like a prototypical NBA three against Kentucky in the tournament. Despite his age, many scouts see him as a possible steal in the late first round.
24. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
It's unclear whether Hollis-Jefferson will really declare for the draft, but his late-season play was so strong that he's moved himself into the mid-to-late first round. He needs a jump shot, but he's got just about everything else. If he waits a year, he could be a lottery pick in 2015.
25. K.J. McDaniels
McDaniels is another terrific athlete who finishes above the rim and can defend multiple positions on the floor. He needs to improve his jump shot and his age works against him a bit, but several GMs claim he's the real sleeper of this draft.
26. Shabazz Napier
No one did more to help his draft stock in the tournament than Napier. Billed as a borderline second-round pick by many scouts before the tournament, his brilliant play for UConn has pushed his draft stock into the first round. He averaged 21 ppg in the tourney, made 20 3-point shots and was the heart and soul of the team on both offense and defense. Kemba Walker's great run in the tourney pushed him into the lottery in 2011. Will Napier get the same push? I doubt it. He doesn't have the speed or quickness of Kemba, but many scouts now see him as the fourth-best point guard in the draft behind Dante Exum, Marcus Smart and Tyler Ennis.
27. Kyle Anderson
Anderson is the most unique player in the draft. He's a point power forward who can excels when the ball is in his hands. He's got a huge wingspan, is an improved shooter and can rebound. But he'll fit only on some teams and is going to struggle defensively. He probably has the widest range of any player on our Big Board; he could go anywhere from 10-35.
28. T.J. Warren
Warren is a terrific scorer who excels on floaters and getting into the paint. He's not a great shooter and is a below-average defender, which hurts his stock quite a bit. But for teams looking for a pure scorer, he's among the best of the best in the draft.
29. Chris Walker
Walker hasn't really played much for Florida (87 minutes total), but teams are still willing to draft him based on upside. He's a great athlete and has good size for his position. No one knows exactly what type of player he will be, but teams will be willing to gamble on him late because next year he could be a lottery pick.
30. Jusuf Nurkic
Nurkic is an old-school big man who is huge, has soft hands and can score around the basket. He's played well in the Adriatic league this year, which has really helped his stock. If he was a better athlete, he'd be even higher. His stock is all over the place. A couple of teams like him in the lottery, but most have him in the late first round.
Next five in: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee; Mario Hezonja, G/F, Croatia; Andrew Harrison, PG, Kentucky; Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan; Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
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